Matt Harmon will be breaking down all fantasy-relevant deals during NFL free agency.
We’ll file this one under “not surprising but still significant.” Ezekiel Elliott seemingly entered the “fantasy nuisance” chapter in the lifestyle of a fantasy football running back a few seasons ago. He was a fun, dominant player at his peak in his career. He was awarded for being an elite player and was given a huge contract that eventually became unfeasible for Dallas.
Free agency has seen a slowdown in the running back market. This may be because teams are waiting for big-name cuts candidates like Elliott. Zeke is still a top-quality NFL back, despite what many people believe. He’s a rock-solid pass-protector and dynamite short-yardage back. For guys like this, there will always be a spot in the league. Some juice left. I believe Eliott will sign as a second committee at some point.
Fantasy spin: This is where the big winner is evidently Tony Pollard who didn’t need too much more steam after a breakout season in 2022. You can expect a fierce competition between your favorite and least favourite fantasy analysts to determine who is the largest Pollard Bro. Even though we have concerns about Mike McCarthy’s safety, the Cowboys are a strong offense and Pollard can run-and pass. These guys are in the first round of fake football.
As for Elliott, there’s a diet version of “this year’s Jamaal Williams” Somewhere in his range, but that feels like an outlier. It would need the perfect landing spot, and issues with the presumed rookie RB1 to make this happen. Elliott is still a contributing fantasy player, but he has not been a difference-maker.
Jamaal William signs with the Saints (3 year, $12 million)
The former Lions back ended up taking less than what his former teammates gave him David Montgomery But it ends up in a solid spot. Saints are without a capable running mate or power complement. Alvin Kamara These numbers have increased over the years. Jamaal Williams This squad can do all of that and more
Williams ran the most hot in the touchdown column with Detroit last year. He won’t mash in that many touchdowns this year but projects as the top short yardage and goal line back on the roster. He’s a solid and reliable runner. The ultimate coach’s catnip of a running back. Williams is also known for setting the tone and building culture.
Fantasy spin: Kamara will likely be suspended from the league this year. But there was also some strangeness in his role last year. He was often removed in passing down and goal line situations. Williams can take even more work away from Kamara in these areas. Williams was a Detroit banger, but he did some passing downs in his early years. Packers career. Williams inherits an important fantasy role in what should be a solid and good offense.
It’s difficult to know how to approach Kamara without knowing if he’ll be suspended. Either way, he’s now set to be more of a true committee back than he has been in the last few seasons. His role will be more similar to that of the person he shared time with. Mark Ingram His career was much shorter. I’m not sure he can be as hyper-efficient at this point in his career and in this version of New Orleans’ offense.
Miles Sanders Signs with the Panthers (four years, $25 Million)
In terms of average annual salary, the highest paid back on the free market clears all others. And it’s still not much as just over $6 million per season. The length of Miles Sanders’ The deal is interesting and shows a solid level commitment by the Panthers. Duce Staley is familiar with the coaching staff, having worked with the runningbacks for a few years in Philadelphia.
The Panthers have almost no talent at their skill position spots. So they’re wise to at least hit a double here by signing a proven back in Sanders. Carolina’s offensive line is also quite underrated, so the run game could turn into a fruitful environment – it was near dominant down the stretch at times in 2022. While there are still many questions about this offense, the run-game has the potential of helping the young quarterback.
Fantasy spin: Sanders is a highly efficient back. He played more of an assist role during his career than he did in the passing game. Jalen Hurts. He’ll need to get more work through the air to offset a likely efficiency downgrade. While I’m high on Carolina’s offensive line and potential rushing ecosystem, it is unlikely to match the 2022 Eagles. Some rumors still linger that the Panthers might want to bring back D’Onta Foreman. Sanders won’t have this gig to himself, either way.
Sanders is likely an attractive mind-range RB2. He doesn’t have a flawless profile but there are a few notes to like in fantasy.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Signs with Patriots (3 year contract, $33 million).
It appears that Patriots preferred it JuJu Smith-Schuster To Jakobi Meyers based on the latter’s reaction to the former getting the exact same deal He received from the Raiders. I don’t agree with their assessment. Meyers is a better man-coverage breaker and works better outdoors. JuJu is a great replacement. JuJu also has more physicality and is a better defender. Perhaps that’s what New England valued more.
New England’s receiver room has been in dire need of a makeover for many years. This is really just swapping one man for another. The Patriots will likely make more moves in the offseason to find a receiver who can win and be open on the perimeter. He is a great receiver. still Current not on the list.
Fantasy spin: JuJu’s limitations as a player have prevented him from being able to maintain a high target share outside of 2018. That was reinforced in Kansas City last year and isn’t likely to change in a far worse offensive ecosystem, even if Mac Jones Real coaching is key to his success on rebounds. He will fit somewhere on the low to mid-range WR3/flex radar assuming the Patriots don’t make another big receiver addition.
Allen Lazard Signs with the Jets (4 year, $44 million).
Obviously, we know why the Jets made this move. This is part their plan to entice. Aaron Rodgers You should surround him with someone he and Nathaniel Hackett know. That said, I’m not going to be one of the people that bash this Allen Lazard signing.
Lazard has his deficiencies — he is not at all separator — but brings size, strong hands in tight coverage and absolute pristine blocking to the equation. Lazard’s size and block ability bring a new dimension to the table, which is not possible with current Jets receivers. Garrett Wilson And Elijah Moore. He’ll be deployed almost as tightly by the Packers at times. He’ll essentially just take Corey Davis’ spot on the roster, as he’s likely a cut candidate.
Fantasy spin: Lazard’s signing is a better real-life move for the Jets than a fantasy needle-mover. Although he will serve as a blocker for an offensive that wants to run it well, I still believe he will be the WR3 of this team.
Hayden Hurst Signs with the Panthers (3 year, $21.8 Million)
The Panthers have a gaping hole at the tight end and wide receiver. Signing Hayden Hurst Their first move to fix two of their worst positions was this. Hurst enjoyed a great year with the Bengals The Panthers will bring him in for a modest fee in 2022. He’s a passable starting tight end for a team that will be playing a rookie quarterback this season after trading for the first overall pick.
Fantasy spin: It would surprise me if Hurst was able to generate enough volume to become a weekly fantasy player. He should still be a target for Carolina’s quarterback draft, given their receiver room. Hurst will be a best-ball pick as a TE2 at this point.
Samaje Perine Signs with Broncos (2-years, $7.5m)
On Day 1 of the free agency negotiation period, the Broncos’ moves (see below), indicated that they wanted to be a fast-rushing, and possibly even run-heavy team. The problem was that their young ascending running back was still recovering from a complex knee injury. It was obvious that they needed someone to take the reins until this happened. Javonte Williams Is ready.
It appears that the guy will be Samaje Perine Perine had a great year last year with the Bengals. Perine, a solid NFL back, was unfairly criticized after a slow start with the feared Washington team. Perine has done well with the Bengals over the last two seasons and has been an asset on passing downs. Joe Mixon. He could be a fill in for the Broncos for a few weeks.
Fantasy spin: There’s a chance the Broncos bring in a rookie back and he usurps Perine as the RB2. Perine was paid a decent amount, so it seems like an oversimplification. Perine is a two-way player with the run-andpass game and could become a high-snap play in the first weeks of the season. In the final rounds of the draft, Perine might be a September steal for teams that aren’t keen on running back.
David Montgomery signs the Lions (3 year, $18 million).
It seems wrong that the Lions won’t have Jamaal Williams on the team next season but that’s what this David Montgomery Signing indicates. Montgomery is a solid but unspectacular back, who is capable of being a passing-down and early-down banger. Williams doesn’t offer much of the latter ability and perhaps that’s part of why the Lions were willing to sacrifice his influence as a culture guy. Montgomery is in a good spot with a top offensive line and an overall ecosystem. I think he’s drawn way too much criticism as a player in the last few years and should be able to exploit this new, far superior setting.
Fantasy spin: Montgomery will be hard to rank. His ADP is likely to slide all over draft boards this summer. One thing is for certain: the current Lions staff does not think. D’Andre Swift Fantasy players may not believe that Montgomery is as useful or as good as they think. Montgomery’s ability in the passing game as a blocker and solid receiver is a further threat to Swift’s work.
Saints sign Michael Thomas (a one-year deal worth $10 million with a maximum of $15 million)
I was expecting a divorce sometime between Michael Thomas It sounds like the Saints and the Saints, but it sounds like Derek Carr Signing partially altered the course. Thomas didn’t separate at his usual level in his three 2022 games But he was still able to run short routes and excelled as a contested catch receiver. Saints star. He is also a big man. Chris Olave Interesting speedster Rashid Shaheed do not. For his future, a full-time move into the slot as an elite player may be best. Of course, all of this analysis is contingent on Thomas staying on the field, something that’s been a monumental hurdle the last few years.
Fantasy spin: I don’t expect Thomas to threaten Olave’s standing as the best player on this offense, the top-volume sponge. The target tree is open for Olave. He could be a red-zone threat for Carr and Co. if he’s healthy. Depending on how his summer goes, I don’t hare drafting him as a WR4-5.
Jimmy Garoppolo signs with Raiders (3-years, $67.5 million).
It was going to be difficult for Raiders to upgrade on a straight-upgrade. Derek Carr This offseason. I don’t think you’ll find a long list of folks ready to argue Jimmy Garoppolo This accomplishes the goal. However, I’m not sure that’s all that matters here.
They’re getting Garoppolo in the building at a mere $24.3 million APY salary, much less than the Saints are paying Carr this year. Despite the big theoretical guaranteesThe Raiders are free to cancel this agreement at any time in the next two offseasons. After shipping off, 12 picks are available to the Raiders in the NFL Draft. Darren Waller. They can still be traded up even after the move.
Getting Garoppolo was probably the best-case realistic scenario to field a quality starting quarterback in 2023 and it doesn’t rule them out of pursuing a top draft pick next or even this year. Jimmy G is a great passer, no matter what your opinion. On The field. Although he was elevated by his San Francisco circumstances, the Raiders boast an outstanding run game, three high end pass catchers, and a coach who knows Garoppolo.
The biggest question in Garoppolo’s game is and has always been his lack of ability and/or willingness to push the ball down the field. Three Raiders receiving options are available to work in the short and middle field areas Jimmy G loves throwing to. Davante Adams posted career-high yards per reception last year and there’s no doubt that goes down with this quarterback but he can still dominate closer to the line of scrimmage. In general, I think this move was a win in Raiders’ fantasy assets compared to post-Carr alternatives.
Jakobi Meyers signs for the Raiders (3 year, $33M).
Over the past four seasons, the Patriots have spent a lot on their pass-catching staff. But Jakobi Meyers emerges each year as their best receiver. He was also the best wide receiver on this year’s free agent market by a country mile.
I have been a big fan of Meyers’ game for years now and believe he’s shown the ability to win inside and outside. That’s an important note considering the current Raiders coaching staff’s treatment of Hunter Renfrow. They considered him a slot-only candidate and used him as a special teamer Mack Hollins In two-receiver sets, Meyers is favored over him. It’s likely Josh McDaniels (who coached Meyers for three seasons in New England) holds Meyers in higher regard as a full-time No. 2 receiver. Renfrow could also be trading on the market, but I think that is less likely. Darren Waller Out of the door.
Meyers is known for running difficult routes such as the dig and slant. Those are some of Jimmy Garoppolo’s best and preferred throws. For 2023, the Raiders have assembled a solid complementing receiver corps around Jimmy G and a young quarterback for future years.
It’s going to be slightly difficult to parse out the target tree in Las Vegas – although the Waller trade clears things up. Davante Adam can be penciled in, with his usual 28-32% target shares. However, the rest is very open. I’d currently expect Meyers to finish second behind Adams, clearing Renfrow. Meyers is an excellent player and matches Garoppolo so I’m willing push him to the “everyweek flex” category, especially as he can play outside. Renfrow now looks more like a bench-player.
Darren Waller was traded to the New York Giants
It was logical that one of these should be included. Hunter Renfrow Oder Darren Waller Could be on the move following the Meyers signing. It was a close call. The Giants part with the 100th overall pick in this year’s draft, the selection they received from Kansas City in the Kadarius Toney trade.
The Giants desperately needed top-end pass-catching talent during this offseason. There weren’t any true No. There were no true No. 1 receivers on the market, so they chose a dynamic, large, and agile tight end. Waller, who brings pre-snap alignment flexibility and a creative offensive coach staff to the table, is currently the clear favorite to be New York’s lead receiver.
Waller, who has been absent for a lot of time the past two seasons, will turn 31 on September. There is always risk, but this is one way the Giants can achieve what should have been their No. 1 goal this offseason and they didn’t pay a premium. Giants fans will love this trade.
Waller can play a major role in restoring fantasy’s tight middle class if he is healthy. Daniel Jones Waller was competent last season and the offense could take another step by adding legitimate pass-catchers. Waller is a highly-desirable fantasy draft pick and will be striving to be a top five ranked tight end.
This trade clears up the target pecking list for Jakobi Meyers, a Las Vegas newcomer. Hunter Renfrow might also be able to benefit from this trade. To stay on the team or Davante Adam to be a wideout in fantasy. It’s now easier to project this passing game. The Raiders will likely seek a traditional, in-line tighter end in the draft.
DJ Moore was traded the Chicago Bears
The Bears have been signaling since the beginning that they want to trade No. The Bears wanted to trade the No. 1 pick before free agency, so they could start their offseason plan. They wanted to resign a top-tier player in any deal that came up.
That’s exactly what they got:
The Bears were sent a package with a 2025 second-rounder by the Panthers. Ryan Poles, general manager, insisted on wide receiver DJ Moore and reportedly didn’t budge. Moore was sent to Chicago by Carolina to close the deal.
Moore has been an efficient player for the Panthers ever since he was drafted by them in 2018. This is a major upgrade to what Chicago had in 2022. Moore isn’t at the same level, I believe, as some of our top receivers last offseason. Moore is an elite No. 1 wide receiver. Moore is one tier below where I would rank him. A.J. Brown Oder Stefon Diggs Moore is a player that was a good fit for the position, regardless of whether he was a player before their trades.
It still counts as a homerun for the Bears. Moore has shown the ability to win both as a vertical X receiver and flanker, who can also move into the slot for between 30-40 percent of his snaps. That’s valuable to a team that’s still trying to figure out what type of passing game works best around Justin Fields. Moore, the Bears quarterback, is a big-game hunting specialist, which would suit Moore’s previous role. But Fields urgently needs a quick-separation target, which would match Moore’s second one.
While Moore isn’t at the same level of player as A.J. Brown is very similar to the Eagles’ trade last year for the Titans receiver. It’s hard to remember now after a Super Bowl run but there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Jalen Hurts Last season. To give him a high-end No. A receiver who could beat the man coverage was the best way for them to assess their quarterback. They did that, and more in 2022.
The Bears likely won’t offer Fields a 1B receiver (ala DeVontaSmith) Hurts was an elite-caliber lineman like the Eagles, but Moore’s trade should give them a good idea of Moore’s capabilities as a quarterback. Moore is now at the top of their depth chart and they have a solid receiver room, which is a good sign for a rookie.
Historically, it’s always tricky to project massive leaps in passing volume from offenses and with how Fields broke out as a rusher last year, the Bears are likely to remain run-heavy as long as he’s under center. The 2022 Eagles are a reminder to let your imagination run wild and to be open to a world that exceeds efficiency expectations.
Fields is still unproven as a pure passer so it’s difficult to say the move to Chicago was a win for Moore’s fantasy value. But, Fields should be considered. the best passer Moore has been paired with That would not surprise me at the end of this season. Overall, I think I’d project Moore for around 1,000 yards and 5-7 touchdowns. That’s not bad at all, but keep in mind that’s right around his career averages to this point.
Moore’s trip to Chicago seems like a better stock-up for Fields than it is for Fields.
Rashaad Penny accepts terms with the Eagles
The Eagles are likely to lose Miles Sanders In free agency and moved to obtain a lower early-down price back in Rashaad Penny. Over the past two seasons, the ex-first-rounder was absolutely electric in spurts. He even led the NFL in yards after contact per rush Last season. Of course, that “in spurts” is doing a lot of heavy lifting. We know the deal with Penny’s injury history. He’s a huge risk to miss time with serious maladies. However, he’s an excellent fit behind their mauling offensive line and the Eagles did get an A+ grade for their training staff in the NFLPA survey. This signing for the Eagles is great, even if Penny does get hurt again. He should burn bright even if he doesn’t burn long.
Fantasy spin: I’m betting this won’t be the Eagles’ only move at the running back position this offseason. When he’s on the field, Penny should inherit a juicy workload. While the Eagles will keep most of their offensive line, Penny should inherit a large workload. Jalen Hurts Sanders was a major threat at the goal line. He saw 26 carries within the 10-yard line. As long as he’s going late – injured guys who have hurt peoples’ feelings like this almost always do – he would make a great fantasy pick for however long he plays. Penny will be more appealing to fake football managers that punt on the runningback position early.
Mike White signs with Dolphins (up to $16 million per year)
This is a perfect “the season we clearly have high hopes for won’t be completely over if the starter misses games” backup plan for Miami. Mike White The Jets saw some great quarterback play in spurts over the past two seasons. There’s also some system familiarity after White played in another 49ers offshoot offense with the Jets.
If the Dolphins have wide receivers, it is possible to feel more positive about them. Tua Tagovailoa Time is lost. This is a stark contrast to last season.
Raheem Moreert signs with the Dolphins for 2 years at $5.6M
They have been smart in opening free agency. Now, the Dolphins are bringing back one of their own. Raheem Moret was the Dolphins’ most successful runner last year, and we know that he has had a long relationship since San Francisco with Mike McDaniel. A reunion would make sense since the cupboard was quite empty at this spot on the depth charts. Miami should focus on making their run play a more dangerous counter-punch for their electric passing attack.
The Dolphins were one place where a new runningback could be brought in and basically take over close to bell-cow duties. While they might not be eligible for free agents, Mostert could still make them a solid landing spot for a rookie. In the meantime, Mostert makes for a fine late-round dart throw as he’s likely to give you solid fill-in weeks, especially if they draft a rookie who isn’t ready to handle the full workload from Day 1.
Note: This article was written before Wilson’s resignation.
Jeff Wilson signed a new deal with the Dolphins (two years, $8.2million)
The Dolphins depth chart now looks less blank. Miami keeps Jeff Wilson and Mostert, its one-two punch. I believe Mostert is the faster overall runner, but Wilson is more reliable on passing downs. For the duration of the season, the Dolphins will have a murky backfield if these two are the only backs. If they don’t want to invest further resources in the position, Wilson and Mostert could be a viable duo for Miami.
I’m less bullish now on the possibility that Miami will draft an April rookie. Wilson and Mostert won’t be ranked higher than a mid- to late-round pick.
Robert Woods signs a two-year deal with the Texans (15.25 million).
I’m skeptical as to how much Robert Woods He has since left. Even before he tore his ACL with Rams in 2021, he looked to be a declining player to me on film. The signing of Woods makes sense for the Texans if he has any left in his tank. Woods will give them a reliable receiver while grooming a young quarterback and he’ll be a fantastic blocker for a team likely installing a run-heavy Shanahan-style offense.
I don’t think Woods will move the needle much for fantasy on his own. I’m more curious if this opens up the door for a Brandin Cooks Trade and Who Trades are available for him.
Jawaan T. Taylor signs with Chiefs (4 years, $80M)
Chiefs take a huge gamble on their offensive line. The team is moving forward from Orlando Brown Jr. Former Jaguars right tackles can be signed Jawaan Taylor It was a huge deal. Taylor has been a left tackle since college, but not much.
Taylor was a good pass-protector in last season’s game and that is a fitting fit for how the Chiefs play. It’s also worth noting Brown himself primarily played on the right before shifting to the left in his final year with Baltimore following injuries and then his entire stint with the Chiefs. It’s more than reasonable to give Andy Reid and co. the benefit of the doubt on this one.
A few offseasons back, the Chiefs turned their offensive line into a strength. This marks yet another new era. Despite some of the risk associated with this signing, I don’t think it will cause me to alter any potential fantasy ranks for Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes Kansas City or any other ancillary players.
Sam Darnold signs with 49ers (1 year, $4.5M)
We knew that the 49ers would sign some type of veteran quarterback in this offseason. Despite the two young and intriguing players in Trey Lance And Brock Purdy They have had to adapt their plans in the face of injuries. Sam Darnold Carolina’s performance last year was impressive. With 8.2 yards per attempt, he would rank fifth among full time starters. Of course, that’s a dramatic outlier in terms of his career output but it was once again a reminder that when he’s in a good ecosystem, he can keep a ship afloat for a month or so.
In ideal circumstances, Darnold would never ask for more.
In the best case scenario, Darnold will not take a snap on this team as either Lance is out or Purdy is healthy. However, if he does end up playing — few teams have had to dig deeper into the quarterback cupboard than the 49ers — Darnold wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for players like George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk And Deebo Samuel. Remember Darnold’s pummeled? Christian McCaffrey They scored 15 goals in their two first games as a team on the Panthers in 2021.
Blockers are a big expense for the Broncos
The Broncos worked hard to improve their offensive line in the first act of the Sean Payton era. Denver added right tackle Mike McGlinchey A 5-year $87.5 million deal, with more than $50 million guaranteed and guarded Ben Powers On a 4-year deal worth $52 million with $28.5 million guaranteed. I prefer the Powers signing to the McGlinchey one.
Powers proved himself to be a strong pulling guard in Baltimore, and this will work well for Denver. People forget how important Payton was in New Orleans’ offensive line. Drew Brees All records had been broken. The Broncos signed tight end agreements. Chris Manhertz He is a specialist in blocking. These moves are a sign that Payton wants the Broncos to be more competitive and provide better protection. Russell Wilson.
Payton’s desire to highlight the rushing game in Denver is evident in the Manhertz signing. The Broncos have a difficult injury recovery process for their star back. Javonte Williams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add a big-name veteran/or rookie in this year’s draft to keep the fort up early in the season.
Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Miami Dolphins
It’s crystal clear that the Miami Dolphins have an extremely high opinion about their current Super Bowl window, as their move for Mike White signaled. Jalen Ramsey He may be a somewhat diminished player from his peak play, but the Dolphins picked him for a mere third round pick and depth close end Hunter Long. Miami failed to cover both zones and men last season. Ramsey immediately makes them more effective.
As Miami pushes their chips in for the next season or two, the Rams attempt to recoup assets in the aftermath of their “all-in” era. This was not the first and won’t be the last major LA move of this variety.
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